US Senator John McCain presses for increased military aid to militant groups in Syria to fight a “two-front war” against both the government of President Bashar al-Assad and ISIL terrorists controlling large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.
The Arizona Republican met with foreign-backed Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey on Wednesday and warned that delays in arming the militants would pose a “growing danger” to the US security.
McCain’s comments echo remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry who said in Saudi Arabia last week that Washington hopes to enlist what he called “moderate” Syrian militants in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) operating in neighboring Iraq.
“Further reluctance to support moderate Syrian opposition forces in fighting more effectively against both Assad and ISIL will only fuel the growing danger that the current threats in Syria and Iraq now pose to the United States and our national interests,” Sen. McCain said after the meeting.
The senator said he had been given firsthand accounts of the “deteriorating security and humanitarian situation on the ground inside Syria, and how the recent offensive by ISIL in Iraq is shifting dynamics on the battlefield in favor of extremists in both countries.”
Syrian opposition leaders held talks in Washington in May, urging US senators to authorize the supply of arms, particularly anti-aircraft weapons, to insurgents fighting the Assad government. However, the White House is worried that such heavy weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups such as ISIL and the al-Nusra Front.
Militants from northern and eastern Syria have threatened to lay down their arms in a week “should our call [for arms] not be heard.”
Washington has been supporting the armed opposition in Syria both financially and militarily in the years-long conflict that has ravaged the Arab nation.
Reports show that ISIL militants were trained by the CIA in Jordan more than two years ago as part of a covert program to shore up the insurgency against the Assad government.